CYNICISM IN OLD AGE, THE NATURE OF MAN, AND WHAT EVER HAPPEN TO THE NEW AGE?

“Dependence begets subservience,
and venality suffocates the germ of Virtue,
and prepare fit tools for the designs of ambition.”

Thomas Jefferson

It is a well known phenomenon, that as we grew old we have a tendency to turn in to cynics, or from the point of view of the cynic, we have grown up our youthful naivete’s, and we no longer are so trustful of our fellow Man, and that we do not believe in embellished fantasies, like future World Utopias, and that we sigh and look at the past with the thought:
“THAT TIME PAST WAS ALWAYS BETTER”
As a young man I read , and memorized (1440-1479)Jorge Manrique’s Coplas on the Death of His Father:

 

 

The Coplas on the Death of His Father,

the Grand-Master of Santiago

Let from its dream the soul awaken,
And reason mark with open eyes
The scene unfolding,—
How lightly life away is taken,
How cometh Death in stealthy guise,—
At last beholding;

What swiftness hath the flight of pleasure
That, once attained, seems nothing more
Than respite cold;
How fain is memory to measure
Each latter day inferior
To those of old.

Beholding how each instant flies
So swift, that, as we count, ’tis gone
Beyond recover,
Let us resolve to be more wise
Than stake our future lot upon
What soon is over.

Let none be self-deluding, none,—
Imagining some longer stay
For his own treasure
Than what today he sees undone;
For everything must pass away
In equal measure.

Our lives are fated as the rivers
That gather downward to the sea
We know as Death;
And thither every flood delivers
The pride and pomp of seigniory
That forfeiteth;

Thither, the rivers in their splendor;
Thither, the streams of modest worth,—
The rills beside them;
Till there all equal they surrender;
And so with those who toil on earth,
And those who guide them.

Although, I always could appreciate their beauty, and message of the impermanence of Life, I never thought  I will become a cynic, and that my boundless enthusiasm one day would diminish to a trickle, and certainly never believe the day will come that I will sigh, and long for time past, and become a sort of Proustian memories  triggered by the humble taste of a Madeline that he dips in to a cup of tea..

Well let’s do a search of time lost; After the defeat of Fascism in Europe, and Imperial Japan, the world seemed to bask in optimism, a new light of hope, after pulling out of depression, and war, nothing seemed unreachable, even the Stars were not far enough, the idea of progress brought by a new age of enlightenment brought by Science, and Democracy exploded all over the world, old societies crumbled, and the young during the sixties rebelled against the status quo, they demanded a new society with no wars, and with great ideals about a better government, more freedom, hippies, great music, love, and peace, a new age, and all that song.

Today, in more conservative or mainstream culture, the term hippie is often used to suggest the pejorative connotation of irresponsibility and participation in recreational drug use. An example is its use by the South Park cartoon character, Eric Cartman. In the “Die Hippie, Die” episode, the entire town joins Cartman in his negative view of hippies after they invade South Park for a “Hippie Music Jam Festival … [creating] the largest such gathering in the history of Man.”

Now what went wrong?

First we have to look in to the past way back to the Roman Empire, about the time the first Jews living in Rome took Christianity, no doubt the first to reject those first Christians were the Jews not converted to Christianity, this probably created conflicts in the Jewish community at the time, and the Romans that put siege and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD very likely didn’t  were too subtle to try to differentiate who was a Jew or a recent convert to Christianity..

Now the Romans were very tolerant of Religions of all kinds that arrived to their shores, due to conquest, or commerce, usually they will incorporated in their own beliefs, however neither Jews or Christians had a Religion that would assimilate easily to the current Pagan system of a Polytheist imbued society of the times, Jews and Christians were too radical, in their thought,  morals, even eating habits were different, the purity laws, and the belief in One God with no name, plus the 10 commandments, were not an easy pill to swallow, at those times however there were a myriad of Gnostic beliefs one, more bizarre than the next one, some of this beliefs were Incorporated in early Christianity, some didn’t survive, however despite different opinions on the subject we could say that Jews, and Christians share the belief of the wicked, or weak Nature of Man, not to call it Evil, therefore the need to curve, and restrict such nature, trough a strict code of conduct, the Law.

Not to say Romans were not familiar with Law, our secular Laws are mainly based in the Roman Code, however this was not a Spiritual Law but secular in nature, concerning with providing legality, and justice, not a Spiritual way of living. Needless to say that the Romans at first didn’t saw with good eyes this new development between their mist, the Jews on one side too bound by their Religion in to themselves as a close society, and the Christians too radical, and fanatical in their estrange new belief of renouncing the World we live, in exchange for a future one in Heaven, or Hell.

The Romans with their penchant for the strong experiences of the Roman Circus, the Bacchanals, the Lupanars, Orgies, and a sort of licentious, and Epicurean living, the following reasoning it is wrongly attributed by the Christians to the Epicureans about the Nature of God. but nevertheless telling about the difference in thinking and lifestyle between Christians and the Pagan world of the Romans:

“God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak – and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful – which is equally foreign to god’s nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?”

As you can see with this sort of opposite views problems were rife to arise, and they did!

The Christian experience of violence during the pagan persecutions shaped the ideologies and practices that drove further religious conflicts over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries… The formative experience of martyrdom and persecution determined the ways in which later Christians would both use and experience violence under the Christian empire. Discourses of martyrdom and persecution formed the symbolic language through which Christians represented, justified, or denounced the use of violence

It is well known and documented the persecution of Christians by the Romans to dwell on it, but the important thing to realize here was the slow transformation of Rome since the first Christians to finally the fourth Century when Constantine finally made Christianity the official Religion of Rome, the pendulum had swing and finally Rome was tamed, and with it in the following centuries the rest of Pagan Europe.

With Christianity we could say Europe went through a long period of Introversion, a period we call now the Dark Ages, or Middle Ages, of course during the Renascence, was when this terms of saecoulum obscurum by Baronious in 1588 and later during the Enlightenment this period was considered:

During the 17th and 18th centuries, in the Age of Enlightenment,  many critical thinkers saw religion as antithetical to reason. For them the Middle Ages, or “Age of Faith”, was therefore the polar opposite of the Age of Reason. Kant and Voltaire,  among others, were vocal in attacking the religiously dominated Middle Ages as a period of social regress, while Gibbon  in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire expressed contempt for the “rubbish of the Dark Ages”.Yet just as Petrarch, seeing himself on the threshold of a “new age”, was criticizing the centuries until his own time, so too were the Enlightenment writers criticizing the centuries until their own. These extended well after Petrarch’s time, since religious domination and conflict were still common into the 17th century and beyond, albeit diminished in scope.

As you can see the pendulum had switched once more and an age were the Nature of Man was no longer an issue, we didn’t have to curve it but liberate it, come forth; Modernity.

And with Modernity; Science, Reason, Progress, Hope of a better future, Utopias, make us forget the Nature of Man, discarding it in to the dustbin of History, as some sort of Doctrine of obscurantism, we believed that Man was capable of reaching the Stars, with the idea of progress, and above all with Darwin Theory of the Evolution of the Species we took what is essentially a Biological mechanism for the propagation, and survival of the Species, and converted also in to an idea that Man also evolved Morally!

Which it is not the case, since every individual it is a blank slate at birth, and it is trough Education, and the inculcation of Moral Values, and Ethics that a man can turn in to a positive and enlightened being, not through genetics! Disregarding the Inherent weakness of Human Nature Men thought that Society at large could be changed and build a better World, only if we could come with a better system of political ruling, Democracy, Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, and many other experiments in politics, were  tried and of course as to this day, we haven’t find a Panacea, to our problems, neither a best solution, most experiments in Utopia style of Government, had ended in terrible failure. Sure you may argue there is societies in the World that are better than others?

First let me tell you, any answer would be subjective, and relative, and very likely a generalization, a society is as good as it’s members that compose it, and for that you got to go back to the individual, a better educated individual, a better society, however even if all kind of education is good, the fact you become a PhD will not make you a better moral character, that would depend of your individual, and particular, Human Nature.

Chris Hedges, one of the few who had talk about the problem of Human Nature said:

“Those who attempt to mend the flaws in the human species through force embrace a perverted idealism. Those who believe that history is a progressive march toward human perfectibility, and that they have the moral right to force this progress on others, no longer know what it is to be human. In the name of the noblest virtues they sink to the depths of criminality and moral depravity. This self-delusion comes to us in many forms. It can be wrapped in the language of Western civilization, democracy, religion, the master race, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, the worker’s paradise, the idyllic agrarian society, the new man or scientific rationalism. The jargon is varied. The dark sentiment is the same.”

“The greatest danger that besets us does not come from believers or atheists; it comes from those who, under the guise of religion, science or reason, imagine that we can free ourselves from the limitations of human nature and perfect the human species.”

“Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the Corporate State. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while manipulating internal levers.”

So what is Human Nature?

Through ages Philosophers had argue about this subject, Human Nature is Divine, no, Human Nature is Evil, no Human Nature on the beginning was good, but corrupted by society, no is just the sum of his natural animal Instincts, no Man has evolved and to his natural Instincts He add Reason that control his Instincts, no his Nature is genetic, no Man has Free Will, and so on, and so forth.

Well it is up to you to decide what  Human Nature is, I will not try to define what is Human Nature, however I got to tell you my experience has taught me Human Nature is weak!

But there it is also individuals with good character, or good Human Nature, that at critical times bring forth the Hero within us…

At every turn in life our Human Nature is tested, do not think of big things like committing murder, or perpetrate fraud, even if we see in the news those things all the time, a proof of the venality of Man, but look at ourselves, how many times you have break a promise, like not indulge yourself in sweets, or to be more punctual, or to take care of a task that is necessary but you dislike, or just to reach to our purse and give a few small coins to a beggar, just because you are in a hurry, or because it pains you to be generous, and you reason you don’t want to encourage lazy people?

How many of us we navigate through life protected by this fog of indifference, that allow us a relative peace of mind, not to be involved in a noble cause, but that would imply an effort in our part to donate time, and above all would expose our sensibility to the raw side of life, the ugly side of things, that part of a reality that we prefer to ignore, like sickness, pain, hunger, poverty, and death..?

So what happened to our youthful ideals, when we witnessed the New Age turned in to a profitable enterprise, Science, Technology and the idea of progress, just another source of revenue for big corporations, at the expense of third World Countries, and the destruction of the Planet Ecology, and Government just a puppet to big capital, it is the dream dead?

It is just old age that have turned me in to a Cynic, or it is time to work on ourselves and become better human beings, so the weight of a good majority outweigh the few bad apples?

I will not want you to discourage of voting, however better than casting your ballot, be informed, and rather vote with your wallet, it is a more effective method for change, refuse to buy those things that hurt, or damage the Planet, not just in a physical form, but also those things that intellectually, and morally corrupt our Human Nature. Choose well what to fight for.

One thing is sure, if we do not change for the good individually, the World would not turn for the better!

Sólo le pido a Dios
que el dolor no me sea indiferente,
que la reseca muerte no me encuentre
vacío y solo, sin haber hecho lo suficiente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que lo injusto no me sea indiferente,
que no me abofeteen la otra mejilla,
después que una garra me arañó esta suerte.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que la guerra no me sea indiferente,
es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
toda la pobre inocencia de la gente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que el engaño no me sea indiferente,
si un traidor puede más que unos cuantos,
que esos cuantos no lo olviden fácilmente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que el futuro no me sea indiferente,
desahuciado está el que tiene que marchar
a vivir una cultura diferente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que la guerra no me sea indiferente,
es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
toda la pobre inocencia de la gente.

Leon Gieco

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About theburningheart

Blog: KoneKrusosKronos.wordpress.com
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4 Responses to CYNICISM IN OLD AGE, THE NATURE OF MAN, AND WHAT EVER HAPPEN TO THE NEW AGE?

  1. Bobby says:

    The only thing I can transform is my Self. If I am able to do that, then the world around me undergoes a small transformation that could grow. Or could not grow.

    Why be cynical?

    The lover loves because he loves, not to be loved in return. A cynic is just someone who has lost track of this and is waiting to see the outside world coalesce with something internal. Like a lover who is forcing his beloved to love him back. A wise friend once told me I need to”enter” like a samurai. I need to move purposefully and be ready to die– to lose my head, so to speak.

    • theburningheart says:

      Cynicism in old age is the product of seeing things going astray too many times, and therefore a need for attention to our own responsibility in the matter, I do not wish to appear as a holier than thou type of individual, so when I speak (write) I do not exclude myself, or I will sound to preachy, and what it is worst, I would pretend to be blameless, I am not.
      It is well known, but maybe some do not know, that the opposite of Love is not hate, but indifference…
      which it is not good, but if you think about it, appears not that bad individually, it is the shear weight of the numbers, that like in a Tsunami bring that wave of indifference to the shores of need, and hit with devastating power those in need of help, if you read the end of my blog I want to make a call to those whose indifference, has turn many in to a cynic, and as the song at the end of the blog: “I only beg God on thing; that our future wouldn’t be to me indifferent.”

      Yes Indifference it is a big monster and walks like a steamroller all over, the Innocent victims, and over our own naiveness, destroying physical lives, and the moral compass of many, but the few.

  2. Bob says:

    Dear Brigido,
    I remain grateful that I can learn about you and your observations through these essays these marks of evidence from your journey.

    As you say, I have the benefit of returning to your writing when and as it suits me to meet in the clearing of your sentiments. Rearing two young children, I appreciate this way of meeting with you although I have only now notified you of it.

    I have not read all your writing, and I grasp less of it as deeply as I should like. Nonetheless, I am able to get a sense of your gift. (If I were able to write in Spanish as well as you do in English I could meet you half way!)

    So far I can say that I appreciate the depth of feeling you put through your writing. It seems to me you have great respect for the written word and that somehow you offer this ‘blog’ to us, to whomever may come to it, as an homage to great pens who have come before you.

    Less anonymously now, and Sincerely,

    “Bob”

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